Last year, I backed AAW Games “Mini-Dungeon Tome” for 5th Edition on Kickstarter. I opted only for the PDF format, primarily because Kickstarter is a confusing platform when it comes to working out exactly how much it will cost in postage charges to the UK.
While I prefer a physical book in just about every instance, when Mini-Dungeon Tome arrived in my inbox I have to admit to being very, very impressed. There were enough one-shot or short adventures to last me a lifetime. The cartography was excellent, the adventures imaginative (a battle between two tribes of Sprites for instance!!) and the layout and formatting of the PDF was excellent and very easy to read and use at the table.
As a result of the above, I was excited when Jonathan Nelson at AAW Games sent me a copy of the recent Fantasy Grounds conversion to review. As many of you will know, I DM pretty much exclusively over Fantasy Grounds these days, so I was very keen to see how this excellent product fared when it was brought into the confines of the Fantasy Grounds interface. This review will focus mostly, but not exclusively on the Fantasy Grounds implementation of this product.
Firstly, I must doff my virtual cap to AAW for even managing to produce this product in Fantasy Grounds format. By my shaky finger counting, there are 128 individual one-shot adventures included in this volume, which means that converting them to Fantasy Grounds must have been no mean feat. Granted, a number of these adventures have been released before for Fantasy Grounds (I own at least one of them from memory) but the cartography has been massively overhauled and improved. Previously basic looking maps are now rich with detail.
One of the most common problems with multi-adventure packages such as this on Fantasy Grounds is that they can be difficult to navigate. Individual adventures can be poorly labelled, listed in an impenetrable alphabetical order mass or (even worse) separated into their own individual folders within a single module, making navigating them excrutiating.
Thankfully, AAW have seen fit to create a single index page in the ‘Story’ section of Fantasy Grounds where the individual adventures are broken down by required character level and are also presented in the same order as they are in the printed/PDF copy of the Tome. This is great as it allows the DM to identify a suitable adventure by level.
Each adventure contains both a DM map and a larger player’s map. The DM maps are all just the right balance of small but functional. This is fairly critical. Most Fantasy Grounds DMs, and many players as well, will tell you that the biggest problem with Fantasy Grounds is screen real estate. Too often I’ve seen massive GM maps which are just not usable at the same time as the player map because they take up too much screen space. If you can’t use both maps as a DM, then you’re going to miss critical elements. Thankfully, these maps are just the right size. Maps are clearly prefixed with the word “Map” in the Images & Maps area of Fantasy Grounds.
A further useful feature of the DM maps is the inclusion of the original area number from the print version which makes it easier to use the print and digital versions together when running the game.
All maps are pinned perfectly, with links back to the appropriate story entry. All story entries are sensibly numbered (and believe me, I’ve owned plenty of Fantasy Grounds conversions where this isn’t the case, so plaudits to AAW for that one) and links to encounter and treasure parcel entries contained within the story text.
Room descriptions on the whole do not have callout text, which is slightly disappointing but is not exclusively a problem with the Fantasy Grounds implementation as this is also the case with the print version, and anyway, callout text is ultimately a personal preference. Some of the adventures also lack clear adventure hooks, leaving the DM to try and piece together a reason for the party getting involved. That’s not unusual for these kind of one-shot adventure compilations but the inconsistent approach (some adventures have plot hooks and some don’t) serves to further highlight the ones without.
Overall, Mini-Dungeon Tome for Fantasy Grounds is a great release and worth adding to your collection. It may seem quite pricey at $39.99 but it does contain 128 adventures, so it’s outrageously good value when you break it down.
What I liked
- Good indexing of adventures, listing them by character level.
- Great maps, with both player and DM versions.
- The inclusion of all of the artwork (not just maps) from the print release.
- Enough content to keep you in one-shot adventures for a lifetime.
What I liked less
- A shortage of adventure hooks.
- Some adventures don’t have callout boxes for locations.
I am a 40 something DM/GM located in Scotland. In 2016, I rediscovered the joys of tabletop role-playing games. This blog documents my journey back into the fold.